I was working in an electronics factory in the 1960’s. People looked the same in our plant as they did in most business places in America. The women in the front offices wore attractive dresses and tailored suits. The managers, supervisors, engineers, accountants, and other professional men all wore white shirts and neckties. They appeared to be in uniform. This was contradictory to what happens in nature where the males are brightly colored, and the females have a more subdued look in order to protect themselves and their young.


We had a manufacturing engineer named Bob Scholl that worked with us who was a pretty sharp dresser. He was always well-groomed and looked really good in his clothes. One morning, the door to the production area opened, and in walked Bob wearing a charcoal gray suit, pink shirt, and matching tie. The ladies in the assembly area were aghast, and the room went silent. After a moment, the comments started. “Look at Bob!” “What is he wearing?” “What does he think he’s doing?” “He can’t wear that!” “Do you think he’ll get fired?” It was as if the world had been turned upside down. No one could believe what they were seeing.


Bob went about his work that day, and, as usual, was seen in most of the departments of the factory. He was not fired, but his pink and gray outfit certainly caused some excitement.


It was like Bob had opened the floodgates, and the rainbow spilled out. We soon began seeing shirts of many shades of blue, green, yellow, and every other color. In our world, Bob was the Darwin of the spectrum.

Dave Thomas

January 18, 2019




We recently had a rainy November morning. Any rainy morning in Southern California is a happening. I’m thinking now of a rainy morning that occurred many years ago, probably 1965 or 1966.


It was 6:00 am, and I had shaved, dressed, and had breakfast, and was ready to go out and feed the horse. The horse was a three-year-old bay filly named Sweetie. I know it sounds like a corny name, but she was so mellow, I couldn’t call her anything else. There was a gentle rain falling, so I pulled on my boots and windbreaker, grabbed a flashlight, and went out the back door. Sweetie was standing in her shed, looking out the door, and watching me cross the backyard. As I slipped through the fence, she came up and nuzzled my arm. (You can’t kid me. I know that your greeting is 25% that you are looking for companionship, and 75% that you want to be fed.)


We walked to the shed, and I entered the door on the storage side, and picked up an old coffee can and filled it with a couple of inches of sweet mix. I took the sweet mix into Sweetie’s side of the shed, and dumped it into the feed box. She went after it like a kid going for ice cream. I had to be careful in how much I gave her because the stuff could make her high as a kite- like a kid on a sugar high. I took the can back to the storage side, and I grabbed an armload of alfalfa and brought it back over and dumped it in the manger. Sweetie went after it right away, and I started stroking her neck and talking to her. As she munched on her hay, she moved a little and pressed her shoulder up against me.


It was warm and dry in the shed, and we were comfortable with each other, so I continued to stroke her neck and talk to her while she had her breakfast. After a few minutes of this pleasant interlude, I headed back to the house. Nothing big, just two beings sharing a moment before starting the day.


I exchanged my boots for dress shoes, and the windbreaker for a sport coat, kissed my wife, and left for work.


Dave Thomas


Company For Breakfast

Pat and I had gotten up just a few minutes before and were just sitting down at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. We heard a noise outside and Pat got up and opened the curtains. There was a donkey with his lips almost against the window. He must have been as startled as we because he cut loose with Hee-Haw, Hee-Haw and it was loud enough to shake the house! We recognized the donkey as the pet of the Noble family that lived several houses up the hill from us.

We had been visited by the donkey a couple of times before. We had a Shetland pony for the kids that we kept in a corral next to our back fence. In the previous visits the donkey had come down the back fence- line but for some reason this time he had come down the street. I had my jeans on and was wearing flip-flops or thongs or shower shoes or whatever you call them. I went out to the shed and got a lead rope and came back and snapped it onto the halter the donkey was wearing. I headed for the street to take him home and he was well-mannered and led on a slack rein, walking beside my shoulder.

We got to the street and started up the hill but it was tough going for me. The asphalt streets in our development had been sealed a couple of days before and then a fine layer of sand had been spread on them. The footing wasnt that good and I kept scooping up sand with my flip-flops. I was relieved when we got up the hill to the Nobles house. However, about this time, the donkey must have realized he was almost home and he snorted and whirled around and started running back down the hill. I dug in my heels and yelled Whoaas I held onto the end of the lead rope. It was a wasted effort! That donkey was going downhill as fast as he could go and I was out on the end of that rope with my heels dug in and looking like a water skier on a slalom course. Our wild ride finally got us to the bottom of the hill and as we got to our house, I could see Pat in her pajamas and housecoat out in the front yard pointing at us and laughing like a crazy woman. The donkey stopped and I looked back up the hill and here comes Noble, laughing. He was kind enough to say that he had seen the donkey escape but had to get dressed before he could come out. As you have read, I got no respect at all. It may have been caused by the donkey but I made a complete ass of myself.

Dave Thomas
July 13, 2014

Republish date November 1, 2018


The Black Cat

This one was probably 45 or 50 years ago, when the kids were young. We all liked cats and had several of them. Also, it seemed that when anyone dumped a cat in the neighborhood it ended up at our house.

One day, this young, black tomcat showed up. He had a beautiful, shiny, black coat and a sunny disposition as well. He seemed very smart and loved to be held and petted. We took him in and thought that since we already had too many cats we should try to find a home for him.

Over the next few days we all enjoyed having this guy around but discovered that when it was time for a bowel movement he would always do his job in the fireplace rather than the litter box. We kept our eyes open and if any of us spotted him heading for the fireplace we would grab him and deposit in the litter box. We tried for several days to teach him, but it just wasnt working. That settled it, and we decided there was no way we could keep him. He had to go.

Soon after, Pat was at work and one of the men said that his wife and kids were bugging him to get a kitten. Pat says Weve got a beautiful young male, only a few months old that was dropped off in our neighborhood. Hes got a beautiful black coat and loves kids and loves lots of attention.Her co-worker says he sounds perfect and Id like to have him.So, the next day, Pat takes the cat to work and gives him to the guy. A few days later, she sees the guy and asks him how the cat is doing. Oh, he says, hes such a beautiful cat and we all just love him!Then, he says, There is one thing…” Pat tries to look cool and unknowing as she asks What would that be?” “Well, says the guy, we cant keep him from crapping in the fireplace!

Dave Thomas
`July 13, 2014


George’s 86th birthday

Cousin George’s 86th Birthday

My cousin, George Phillip Sicks, had an 86th birthday party that is really worth talking about. It consisted of a boat trip to and from Catalina Island, lunch at a fine restaurant, checking out the local shops, touring the island, and just visiting with some nice people. George’s wife, Justine, and step-daughter, Kathy Kingsbury did an outstanding job of planning and organizing. They invited George’s kids, grand-kids, cousins, and friends. They came from the east coast, Missouri, and several places in California. I don’t know what the count was, but there must have been at least 30 people.

George and Justine lived in El Cajon, a suburb of San Diego, as we did. We were to catch the boat for Catalina at Long Beach harbor. Having previously lived in the Los Angeles area for many years, George and some of the others were quite familiar with Long Beach and were going to drive up and be there by the 7:30 AM boarding time. Pat and I didn’t know the area so well, so we drove up the evening before and got a motel room. The next morning, we were lined up on the pier and waiting for the 7:30 boarding call. As we waited, we visited with those around us and made the acquaintance of those we didn’t know. Along came Kathy and Justine, passing out blue baseball caps with”80SICKS” embroidered on the front. How clever and perfect is that for George’s 86th birthday? I thought that was special and almost 20 years later, I still have that ball cap.

We boarded the boat and found a good seat on the outside deck. We departed and settled in for the 22-mile trip across the channel to the town of Avalon on Catalina. The hydro-foil boats make the trip in about an hour. It was a beautiful day with a blue sky and small waves and we were hoping to see some flying fish. The flying fish visit the waters around Catalina for several months of the year. It is said that they can soar out of the water to a height of 30 feet and then glide for up to 2/4 mile. We saw a half dozen of them while crossing to the island. It takes you by surprise when they first get airborne and then you watch them in disbelief.

We soon arrived in Avalon and disembarked. We were told when and where to meet for lunch and were turned loose to wander around town and see the sights. I didn’t know anyone in this branch of the family but as Pat and I wandered around town and spotted the blue “80Sicks” ball caps, we would strike up a conversation with that new-found relative.

At the appointed time, we all met at the specified restaurant for lunch and George’s birthday party. It was interesting to be in a room full of relatives I hadn’t seen before. There was a lot of laughing and carrying on and George seemed to have a great time.

After lunch we were free again to wander around until about 4:00 o’clock when we would meet at the pier for the return trip to Long Beach. Pat and I took the tour of the island and got to see the herd of buffalo and the interesting views from up on top. It’s a fascinating place. About 4:00 o’clock we met back at the pier for the boat trip back to Long Beach. Pat and I had a wonderful day, and George had a jim-dandy 86th birthday party.

The reason I didnt know these relatives was that I just met George when he was 82, and I was 63. When we did finally meet, we really hit it off and visited many times. Pat and I moved to Texas for 7 years, and George and Justine flew down and visited us twice. The way I finally met George is interesting, and if youd like to know, please read my story Finding George P. Sicks.

Dave Thomas and Terri Gray
June 22, 2018


Patio Talk 8b: Miz Pat’s Wild Ride


Summer was ending. Russ, Doug, and Terri had enjoyed a wonderful vacation with their grandparents in El Dorado, Kansas. Pat was going to make the drive back to pick them up and bring them home.

Friday afternoon, Pat left work early. She drove home, changed clothes, grabbed a bite to eat, tossed her suitcase into the car and took off. It was a beautiful evening and Pat made good time, clearing the mountains and Imperial Valley and crossing the Colorado River into Yuma before dark. She continued across Arizona to Eloy and turned north, finally stopping for the night in Florence.

Pat was beat, working all day and then driving this far had taken its toll. She checked into a motel and pretty much crashed. She was awakened in the middle of the night by a lot of loud shouting. A man and woman were having a knockdown, drag out fight in the room next door. Pat tried to go back to sleep and after what seemed like hours, finally drifted off. Unfortunately, she couldn’t stay asleep. The noise next door seemed to rise and fall on a regular basis and she awoke as it reached it’s peak each time. Finally, she could stand it no longer. Sunrise was still something to be hoped for, but it wouldn’t be happening real soon. Pat gathered up her things, loaded them into the car, and headed out.

It was a joy to be in the car and away from the screaming. The warm Arizona night felt good and the clear desert air enhanced the abundant display of stars. Pat and her little Renault rolled across the desert floor, hit the first upgrade, and headed into the mountains. The sun came bouncing up and suddenly there was blue sky, red rocks, and green junipers to enjoy as she sped along.

Pat knew she was getting close to Salt River Canyon and, sure enough, she spotted the first signs,” Downgrade” and “Test Your Brakes.” She dutifully tested her brakes and then got to wondering what would happen if her brakes failed. Would she be able to get down the hill safely? By downshifting, could she control her speed and make it to the bottom in one piece?

To help you picture this, I should interject some information about the car. It was a 1969 Renault 4-door sedan. It had a 4-cylinder engine and a 5-speed transmission (5 on the floor). It had quick steering, disc brakes, and Michelin steel-belted tires.

Pat considered the attributes of the car and decided to give it the test. She knew that the road zig-zagged all the way to the bottom with a lot of hairpin curves and switchbacks. She downshifted as she headed into the first turn and was on her way. She was busy shifting up and down and steering into the tight turns and it seemed she was going faster than she was. The windows were all down and the radio was blaring and it all contributed to the thrill of the ride. “Woweeee…this is more fun than Disneyland!” She had a busy time of it but made the curves safely. As she reached the canyon floor, she could see two Arizona Highway Patrol cars blocking the road with lights flashing. As she brought the Renault to a stop, one of the officers

approached the car and gruffly demanded to know, “Why were you trying to evade the police?” “I wasn’t evading the police” Pat said. “Then why didn’t you stop for this officer?” he said as he pointed to a car behind Pat’s car that also had flashing lights and a siren that was giving its final screech. Pat was amazed to see the cruiser behind her. She had been concentrating on the road so hard she hadn’t noticed the flashing lights and with the radio turned up full blast, hadn’t heard the siren.

They ordered Pat out of the car and all three of them were barking questions at her. “Where are you coming from?” “Where are you going?” “Why were you speeding?” Pat explained what she had done and apologized for having made a bad decision. The Highway Patrol guys were getting agitated and were becoming more intimidating every minute. They stepped away, a few feet, and were discussing arresting her. Pat suddenly, with a stroke of brilliance, remembered that a former high school classmate was high up in the chain of command of the Arizona Highway Patrol. Pat yelled at the officers “Why don’t you call your boss, Ray Smith (not his real name) about me.” “What”, said one of the Troopers. “Call your boss, Ray Smith, and tell him you are talking with his high school classmate, Pat Lee. He’ll vouch for me.”, she said.

The Troopers talked it over and one of them got in his car and got on the radio. Pat could see him talking and gesturing as he tried to explain the situation to Ray Smith or whoever was on the other end of the conversation. The trooper finished with the radio call and got out of the car and talked to his fellow officers. After a short discussion, all three of them approached Pat. The officer who had made the radio call looked Pat straight in the eye and said “You are to proceed straight to the New Mexico State Line. You are not to speed or break any other Laws. Now, get in your car and get going.” Pat jumped in her car and got on down the road. Checking her rear-view mirror constantly, she observed tat an Arizona Highway Patrol car was behind her all the way to the New Mexico line.

Completing her trip with no further drama, Pat arrived at her folks’ house in El Dorado anxious to see the kids. They greeted her with a glum “Hi Mom” and no hugs or kisses. She was crushed, expecting the kids to be as overjoyed about the reunion as she was. “Have you had fun?”, she asked. Doug said, “Grandma is a good cook and she bakes bread!” “Yes,” said Russ, “and we had something fun to do every day.” Terri wanted to back up her brothers and said “Yes, the food was good, and we went some place or did something fun every day.” Pat realized that the kids had indeed had a good time and were lamenting the fact that their summer was over. She perked up as she listened to the kids’ stories and they all had a good final visit with her folks.

Pat and the kids left for California the next morning Pat had promised herself that she would be a responsible driver and would not engage in any downhill races or other high jinx. Wouldn’t you know that her resolution couldn’t last? They had gotten most of the way home. They crossed the border into California at Yuma and crossed the Imperial Valley. They had left the desert floor and started up that long mountain grade that eventually gets you up above 6,000 feet. The Renault, with four people aboard, was laboring as they went up hill. Suddenly, there

was a honk, and Pat looked over at the VW that was creeping up beside her. The young man driving the car made a motion and mouthed the words “Wanna race?” Pat laughed and thought to herself that a Volkswagen and a Renault racing would look like two turtles in slow motion going up that grade. The kids were all for it and were begging her to race. Pat is thinking that anyone can beat a little underpowered VW “toy car”. On the other hand, she remembered her promise to herself not to do anything stupid on the way home. The competitive Pat won, and they were in a race. The kids were yelling and as they inched past the VW, they were waving at the guy to”c’mon’. They won the race, such as it was. A kid on a 10-speed bike could have taken them both. Regardless, it was a fitting end to a wonderful summer.

This story never seems to come to an end. Twenty years later, Pat went to a high school class reunion and ran into Ray Smith and his wife, also a former classmate. They spent a few minutes “catching up” and then Pat recounted her Salt River Canyon story. They all laughed about it and then, as they were parting, Ray said “Don’t ever use my name that way again!”.

Dave and Pat Thomas
May 24, 2018


Patio Talk 8a: Summertime!


Summer is coming! We are on the patio, wearing jackets, and enjoying the afternoon. The wind has a slight chill to it, but the sun is out, and we are anticipating the warm days ahead. Thinking of summer, makes us think of past vacation trips, especially those we took when the kids were young.

Pat and I were born and raised in Kansas but have been living in San Diego since 1958. After we had kids we made it a point to get back to Kansas every year to see our folks and let the kids get to know them.

As we made our vacation trips, we refined the route by considering road conditions, scenery and interesting places to stop (like trading posts and souvenir shops). Our favorite way to go was also the shortest so we were very happy about it. The best part was the trip through the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. We passed the copper mines of the Clifton and Morenci areas, went through the spectacular Salt River Canyon, and went through places with interesting names like Show Low, Pie Town, and Tucumcari.

Today, we’ve been talking about the summer Russ and Doug were 10 or 11 and Terri was 8 or 9. (None of us can remember). Pat’s Mom had invited the kids back to Kansas for the summer and they were going nuts with anticipation. To go fishing and boating with Grandma and Grandpa would be the most exciting thing that had ever happened.

Pat and I were trying to figure out how to make it happen. We didn’t have the money for airline tickets. I didn’t have any sick days or vacation time on the books, but Pat said she could work things out with her job and would take them. I wasn’t too crazy about the idea at first, but she convinced me that she would be fine. She was smart, had a lot of common sense, and was a good driver. Her car was in excellent condition. It was a 1969 Renault 4-door with standard transmission, “5 on the floor”. It was a small car, had” quick” steering, was easy and comfortable to drive, and the best part, was that it got 36 miles per gallon.

The day to leave finally arrived and Pat and the kids loaded up for an uneventful trip back to El Dorado, Kansas. Pat only got to visit with her folks for a couple of hours before getting a few hours sleep and heading for home the next day.

The time spent with Grandma Melba and Grandpa Eddie provide the kids with experiences and memories they will never forget. The grandparents spent a lot of their time outdoors, fishing, camping, boating, and shooting. They were thrilled to have someone to share it with and immediately got the kids involved in all kinds of new things. One of the big outings was an overnight camping trip at Lake El Dorado. After a full day of running around, the kids went right to sleep in the camping trailer. During the night, Melba and Eddie were awakened by the screaming of the city’s tornado warning sirens. Not one kid woke up, they were down for the

count. Melba and Eddie didn’t have the heart to wake them and decided to stay right where they were and take their chances. A few days later, the kids got to experience the adrenaline rush of a tornado alert when the sirens went off and they got to spend a few hours in the neighbor’s cellar.

Eddie enjoyed archery so one day they went out in the country and learned what bows and arrows were about. Russ and Doug were starting to get some size on them, but Terri was still small, so it wasn’t as much fun for her. Doug remembers that even with a protector strapped to your forearm, that bowstring inflicted a lot of pain when you shot an arrow.

The house was just as entertaining as any place. It was a 2-story house with the garage occupying the lower floor and the living quarters upstairs. Eddie kept his fishing boat in the garage and he had a lot of tools and fishing equipment there also. He had a wood lathe in there also and helped each kid turn a lamp from a beautiful piece of black walnut.

The yard was just as much fun as the garage. There was a rope swing hanging from a very tall tree that the kids all enjoyed. The most fascinating thing in the yard was the discovery of the locust (cicada) shells attached to the bark of the trees. We don’t have cicadas in southern California so finding the shells or exoskeletons on the trees was intriguing. The kids foraged throughout the neighborhood and collected all the shells in sight. They brought them back to the house and hung them all on the side of one of the elm trees. One of the neighbors said he had never seen so many locust shells in one place.

One morning was spent shooting Blue Rock. Blue Rock was a brand of clay pigeon sold by Remington. The boys were old enough and big enough to really enjoy this. Terri wanted to shoot, too, so Melba went over the gun safety rules with her and showed her how to hold the shotgun’s stock tight against you to minimize bruising. Then, Melba stood behind her with her hands on Terri’s shoulders so the recoil wouldn’t knock her down. Terri said that it hurt but she really had fun.

At the beginning of the vacation, when they were out driving on country roads, Eddie stopped the car whenever he saw a box tortoise. He kept a lookout for the turtles until each kid had one. This was aa fascinating treat as we don’t have box tortoises in southern California. They kept the tortoises and fed and cared for them until the vacation was over and then turned them loose.

Russ, Doug, and Terri had a summer that was full of “firsts” and highlights. They saw and experienced things that we don’t have in southern California like lightning bugs, cicada shells, chiggers, and tornado sirens. They got to shoot skeet and fish for blue gill also. I’ll end this by recounting one of the stories that Russ will never forget. They were in the car and traveling down a country road. Melba was driving. Russ was riding shotgun in the front passenger seat and Doug and Terri were in the back seat. Russ was watching the countryside while Melba and

the other two kids were jabbering and laughing. Russ saw a semi pulling a Russ kept his eyes on the truck as it was a pretty wide truck to be meeting on this narrow country road. stock trailer loaded with cattle approaching. As they closed within a few yards, at least two of the cattle started urinating, spraying the yellow liquid into the lane of their oncoming car. Russ tried to interrupt the levity of the other three in the car. He wanted to yell, “Grandma, roll up your window!” but it was too late. The yellow stream struck her in the face and knocked her glasses off. At first, they were all in shock as Melba brought the car to a stop. Then, Then, the kids broke out laughing as Melba tried to collect herself and dry her face.

The wonderful summer with their grandparents ended. The grandparents were worn out and the kids’ heads were crammed full of stories of their adventures.

Dave and Pat Thomas May 16, 2018

P.S. There is more to this story and we’ll tell you about it in Patio Talk 8b: Mi Pat’s Wild Ride.